Quick Hits: Game Two vs. Minnesota Wild (Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One)


Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Colorado Avalanche – 4 Minnesota Wild – 2 (Avalanche lead series 2-0)

*Nathan MacKinnon

*Gabriel Landeskog

*Paul Stastny

*Semyon Varlamov

*Those four all deserve their own bullet point with the way they played in this game.

*Things didn’t start out so well, though. Minnesota showed that they weren’t down on their luck after their game one collapse. They dominated the first five minutes and got on the board first thanks to a good pass by Mikko Koivu that deflected off of Varlamov, then off of Charlie Coyle, and into the net.

*That’s when MacKinnon took over.

*He picked off the puck in his own zone, blew by a couple of Minnesota Wild players, shook Jared Spurgeon off his skates, and this zipped the puck past Ilya Bryzgalov for his first career playoff goal.

*MacKinnon was just getting started.

*He once again used his speed to back up the defense and dropped the puck off to Landeskog, who beat Bryzgalov on the glove side to put the Avs up 2-1.

*MacKinnon still wasn’t done.

*The third goal was an absolute thing of beauty. Tyson Barries fired a cross ice pass to MacKinnon, who took it off his skate and between the legs, used his speed to enter the zone and back off the defense, dished it off to Stastny in the circle, and then Stastny hit a wide open Landeskog with a behind the back pass for an easy finish to put this Avs up 3-1.

*Wild coach Mike Yeo pulled Bryzgalov after the third goal, but he honestly wasn’t that bad. He probably would’ve liked to have one of the first two goals back, but he had no chance on the third goal. He was also great in the first period, as the Avs dominated play after the Wild got on the board first.

*Darcy Kuemper was very good in relief, stopping all 14 shots he faced, including a couple of good chances by P.A. Parenteau and MacKinnon. I expect that he’ll be the game three starter.

*I’ve dubbed the MacKinnon-Stastny-Landeskog trio the 2-6-9 line.

*All three of those guys were great, but Varlamov once again proved why he’s the Vezina front-runner.

*Obviously Varlamov wasn’t himself in game one. He gave up a couple of bad goals and just looked shaky throughout. That wasn’t the case in this one. He didn’t really have a chance on the first goal as it just took a couple of bad bounces, but after that he looked like the guy we’ve watched all season. He was challenging the shooters, not allowing rebounds, moving across well, and tracking the puck perfectly.

*He made a number of outstanding saves on the penalty kill and in scrambles in front of the net. He was exceptional once the Avs went up 3-1, making sure the Wild couldn’t claw their way back in the game.

*The final four minutes were something else.

*Parenteau took a blatant high stick to the face, which drew blood, and the refs didn’t make the call.

*After the Wild pulled Kuemper, Parenteau scored on the empty net, but the play was ruled offsides. On the replay, it was clear that Parenteau kept his skate on the line after the puck had entered the zone.

*The Wild actually cut the lead to 3-2 moments after Parenteau’s offside goal.

*Luckily, MacKinnon saved the day once again.

*After Paul Stastny missed the empty net from about 10 feet out with no one one him, Landeskog fought to keep the puck in the zone, MacKinnon fought off a hold from Kiovu, and fed the puck to Stastny, who didn’t miss the second time.

*Nathan MacKinnon is 18. He has 7 points in 2 playoff games. He’s really good at hockey.

*I said in the Avalanche Roundtable that MacKinnon would be the guy to watch for me because, when the stakes get higher, MacKinnon’s game gets better. So far, so good.

*Despite being held off the scoresheet, the line of Jamie McGinn-Ryan O’Reilly-P.A. Parenteau was good this game. They created some good chances and played well defensively. Parenteau just can’t buy one right now. If he can break out of this slump, look out.

*Also look out when Matt Duchene returns. Right now the 2-6-9 line is firing on all cylinders. When Duchene returns, if he can sync up with O’Reilly the way they did in the regular season, the Avs are going to have two lines that can beat you in the blink of an eye.

*Jan Hejda was about the only sore thumb in this one. He got beat by Coyle on the first goal and took two penalties. The first penalty was a delay of game, which is a stupid rule, and the second penalty was a weak call, especially given what Minnesota got away with, but that’s still four minutes in the box that could’ve cost the team.

*Did I mention that Nathan MacKinnon is really good at hockey?

*Jared Spurgeon is going to see MacKinnon in his nightmares.

*The Avs lead the series 2-0, but a series doesn’t start until a team loses at home. The Avs did their job in Colorado, now they have to take at least one in Minnesota.

Game Three: Monday at Minnesota